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How to Measure for Jeans

You can figure out the perfect size of jeans for you without going to a department store to try on fifteen different pairs! The trick is that you need to know your own precise measurements to match them to the correct size. Fortunately, you can easily learn how to measure yourself for jeans.

Key measurements for jeans size include the waist and inseam, or length, for men. For women, the waist, hip, and inseam provide the most necessary sizing measurements. Both men’s and women’s jeans also use rise measurements to help determine jean fit.

In this article, you will learn how jeans sizes work. You will find a step-by-step guide to taking key measurements for jeans. Finally, you will discover tips on how to use sizing charts for men’s and women’s jeans.

How to Measure for Jeans

How Do Jeans Sizes Work?

Jeans sizes for men use the waist and the inseam measurements as the size, while women’s jeans use an even-numbered sizing system starting at 0.

Men’s jeans list two numbers as a size, such as 34/34. This means that the jeans have a waist measurement of 34 inches and an inseam measurement of 34 inches. Sometimes the size lists just one number instead. In this case, the number means the waist measurement of the jeans.

As you can see, the waist measurement typically forms the most important part of the size for men’s jeans. But in a fun twist, most modern brands pad out that waistline measurement in their jeans! Jeans marketed as a size 34 often have a 35 or even 36” waist.

If you want to know the actual waist measurement of the jeans before you buy them, check the sizing chart provided as part of the online description for the item. This should list real measurements.

The second key measurement for men’s jeans sizes is the inseam. This describes the length of the jeans and measures the distance from the crotch seam to the hem at the ankle. This measurement helps you make sure you get jeans that fit your height, making it so important that it often forms the second number in the size of the jeans.

Women’s jeans sizes do not use a clear-cut method like this. Instead, they use an antiquated sizing system developed in the 1930s that estimated women’s pants sizes based on bust size. This system (developed by men) lacked accuracy and did not account for women of varying body shapes or from different racial backgrounds.

Despite several efforts to update and standardize women’s clothing sizes, they remain everywhere from one brand to another. What you can know for sure about women’s sizing is that you will typically find either an even number as the size or an odd number.

Even-numbered sizes indicate the women’s sizing system most commonly used in the US. For most brands and jeans, you can add 22 inches to the size number to estimate the waist circumference of the jeans. So if you have size 4 jeans, the waist circumference should measure roughly 26 inches.

Odd-numbered sizes, like a size 7 or a size 9, indicate junior or teen sizes. They use no standardization and can vary hugely from one brand to another.

The bottom line with women’s jeans is that they come in so many shapes and sizes that you need to know your measurements to make sure you buy jeans that match you rather than fitting an individual brand’s idea of what you should look like!

Another key element to keep in mind with jean sizes is that the type of fabric used will impact the size as well. Jeans with stretch denim will fit you even if they have a smaller measurement, but jeans that contain 100% cotton lack that wearing ease and should match your body measurements more precisely.

How to Measure for Jeans

Both men and women will find it easier to use accurate sizing after learning how to measure for jeans. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to take a few simple measurements at home in front of a mirror.



how to measure womens waist

The most important measurement for men’s jeans sizing is the waist. This measurement also matters a lot for women’s sizing.

Men’s waist measurement:

  1. Stand with your feet flat on the floor, arms loose at your sides. Try to stand up straight but don’t suck in your gut.
  2. Wrap a flexible tape measure around your natural waist. Men’s jeans brands generally base sizes off the assumed natural waist measurement for men, even if the actual waistline will fall above or below this point. To find your natural waistline, look for a point about one inch below your navel.
  3. Check in the mirror to make sure you keep the tape in a straight, level line as it circles your torso.
  4. Write down that measurement. That number–such as 34 inches, 35 inches, and so on–will serve as your official jeans size.

Women’s waist measurement:

  1. Follow the same steps to measure your natural waistline. Some brands will use this measurement no matter where the actual waistline of the jeans lands, such as low-rise or high-rise models.
  2. But in many cases, you will get more accurate sizing info if you measure yourself at the point on your torso where the waistline of the jeans will rest. You can follow these steps for that process:
  3. For women’s high-rise jeans, measure around your waist about 4 or 5 inches above your crotch seam.
  4. For mid-rise jeans, measure at your natural waistline or about 2 to 3 inches above the crotch seam.
  5. For low-rise jeans, measure around your torso just one or two inches above the crotch seam.


Where To Measure Hips

One of the most important measurements for women’s jeans sizes is the hip circumference. This matters greatly in women’s jeans because the hips often form the widest part of a woman’s body. Men’s jeans sizing charts may not even list this measurement, so you can skip this if you want to learn how to measure yourself for men’s jeans!

  1. The key to getting an accurate hip measurement is finding the widest portion of your hips and your seat and measuring around that circle.
  2. You can estimate this point on your body by looking in a mirror.
  3. But for the best results, put on a pair of old form-fitting yoga pants. Measure down one hip from the waistband of the yoga pants, marking each one-inch interval. Repeat these markings on the other side seam.
  4. Now measure around yourself at each one-inch marking and write down the measurements.
  5. Find the biggest one, and use that point as your official hip measurement!
  6. Another way to get an accurate hip measurement is to start with a pair of jeans that fits you well.
  7. Measure nine inches down from the waistband at each side seam, and mark that point with a little chalk or a safety pin.
  8. Then measure straight across that point from one marking to the other on both the front and back of the jeans.


In some cases, you may also want to measure the circumference of your thigh to make sure the jeans will fit you properly. If you have muscled legs or a curvy build, how jeans fit around your thigh will matter more to you.

Most men’s jeans sizing charts will provide a thigh measurement. This is especially true for specialty cuts in jeans, like an athletic fit style.

  1. To find the right point on your leg to measure, begin by finding the inner side seam of the pant legs. Find where that seam meets the crotch seam in your pants.
  2. Next, measure two inches down your inner leg from that point.
  3. That marks the point on your leg you want to measure around for an accurate thigh measurement.
  4. With your feet flat on the ground, measure around your thigh at that point and then write down the measurement.


Inseam vs Outseam

Both men’s and women’s jeans use the inseam measurement to describe the length of a pair of jeans. The inseam tells you the distance from the crotch seam to the inner leg hem.

For men’s jeans, the inseam measurement is often listed as the second number in the size of the jeans. So for men’s jeans in size 32/32, the jeans have a waist measurement of 32 inches and an inseam or length of 32 inches.

The basic concept of measuring your inseam is quite simple. All you need to do is stretch a tape measure from your ankle, up your inner leg, to the crotch seam on your pants.

But you may also want to check out these length tips:

  • It helps to have a friend take this measurement for you. If you have to bend over to reach your ankle, it could impact the accuracy of the results.
  • Different styles of jeans should end at different points around your ankle. For example, skinny jeans usually end at your ankle bone, while bootcut jeans should break at the top of your foot. This means you may want to take several different inseam measurements on yourself to know the right length for several different styles of jeans.
  • For women, take this measurement while wearing the shoes you want to wear with the jeans. You will need a different inseam length if you plan to wear your jeans with heels vs flats or sneakers.


The outseam tells you the overall shape of the leg for jeans and can help you decide if the style will suit you. The outseam on pants measures the distance from the waistband to the hem on the outside of the leg.

The inseam tells you more about sizing and if the length of the pants will fit your height. But the outseam will tell you more about how the jeans will fit on your torso.

  1. To measure the outseam, place one end of the tape measure at your natural waist.
  2. Trace the tape down your outer leg to your ankle.
  3. For some jeans, like skinny jeans, end the measurement here.
  4. For longer jeans, such as regular cut or bootcut models, measure down to the top of your foot.

Leg Opening

Levi 511 vs 513 Leg Opening

The leg opening measurement for a pair of jeans tells you the width of the leg at the hem. Do you hate skinny jeans? Watch out for a small leg opening in a sizing chart to avoid accidentally buying jeans that will feel too tight for you!

  1. You can’t easily measure leg opening on your own body, but you can do a test run on jeans you already own that you like.
  2. Spread out a pair of bootcut, regular, and slim-fit jeans and measure across the hem of the leg to see what leg opening each style has.
  3. That way, you will know what width of leg opening you like best when you make future purchases.


How To Measure the Rise on Jeans

The rise measurement on jeans lets you know how high up your torso the waistband will reach. For example, low-rise jeans typically have a waistband that rests somewhere below your navel but above your hips.

The front rise on your jeans measures the distance from the crotch seam to the center front of the waistband.

For men’s jeans, the rise measurement typically ranges from 8 to 11 inches. Anything below 9 inches falls into the low-rise category, while anything above 10 inches is considered a high-rise.

For women’s jeans, a low rise often measures around 7.5 inches, while a high rise measures 9 inches and above.

How to Check Jeans Size Without Wearing

You can use some easy tricks to check your jeans size without wearing the jeans. You may find this especially helpful when shopping if you don’t want to try things on in a grungy-looking dressing room!

  • Button or zip the jeans and tug the waistband into a straight line between your hands. Then wrap the waistband around your neck like a scarf. If the waist meets easily around your neck, it will also fit your waist.
  • Make your hand into a fist and insert your whole lower arm into the waistband of the jeans. If the waistband fits perfectly when stretched from your elbow to your fist, the jeans should fit your waist.
  • To check length, hold one ankle of the jeans in each hand and see if you can stretch your arms out to their full arm span. If so, the jean length should fit your height!
  • For skinny jeans, try making your hand into a fist and putting the fist inside the leg of the jeans. If the leg opening fits closely around your fist, it should also fit your ankle.

Jean Size Calculator Height/Weight

If you need to estimate your jean size quickly, you can also use a free online jean size calculator. Some online calculators like this one ask for a waist and inseam measurement and then guess your size. Others work based on your height and weight, like this chart.

Of course, this only gives you a general idea of your size. You will still want to check the size chart provided by an individual brand before you make a purchase. Every brand uses slightly different measurements to determine sizes.

Jean Size Chart Men

Check out this chart of average men’s jeans sizes to get a good picture of the kind of measurements used. Of course, you know by now that every clothing brand may use slightly different measurements! But this gives you a good overview of the average measurement used.

Size Waist Inseam
26 or 26/32 25”-27” 32”
28 or 28/32 27.5”-29” 32”
30 or 30/32 29.5”-31” 32”
32 or 32/32 32.5”-33” 32”
34 or 32/32.5 32.5”-33” 32.5”
36 or 36/32.5 33.5”-34.5” 32.5”

Jean Size Chart Women

Check out this chart to get a quick idea of the measurements used to determine women’s jeans sizes. Keep in mind that different brands use slightly different measurements. But the key thing to note is that hip measurement plays an important role in determining jeans sizes for women.

When you shop for jeans online, check to see if the hip measurement listed will fit you. This will also help you buy jeans using either American or Asian sizes, as these two sizing systems often use distinctly different hip sizes to determine the size of a garment.

Size Waist Hip
2 26.5” 36”
4 27.5” 36”
6 28.5” 38”
8 29.5” 39”

Jeans Size Questions

Now that you know how to measure yourself to find your jeans size check out these common jean size questions.

What Does a Size 28 Jeans Mean?

A size 28 jeans describe a 28-inch waist circumference. Men’s jeans sometimes just list the waist measurement as the size of the garment. Women’s jeans in size 6 or a small will often have a 28-inch waist.

What Size Jeans is a 32 Inch Waist?

For men’s jeans, a 32-inch wait means size 32 jeans. You will often see men’s jeans sizing listed as two numbers, including the waist measurement first and then the inseam or length measurement. Women’s jeans in a large or size 12 often have a 32-inch waist measurement.

What Size is a 34 Inch Waist?

For men’s jeans, a 34-inch waist indicates a size 34 pair of jeans. Men’s jeans always use the waist measurement as the first number in size. Women’s jeans in size XL or 16 may have a waist measurement of 34 or 35 inches.

What is the Best Fit for Jeans?

The best fit of jeans for you suits your body type and the type of outfits you like to wear. Most jeans have a fairly forgiving and flexible nature, meaning you can often make any style of jeans work for you! But you can also check out these handy tips to find out what jeans often look best for each body type.

  • Straight-leg jeans look great on people with hourglass or apple figures. They make your legs look longer and balance out your curves. This cut has a casual vibe that pairs well with t-shirts and informal shoes like sneakers or flats.
  • Skinny jeans can look good on anyone. But don’t turn yourself into a toothpick by wearing a fitted top with these tight jeans! Instead, wear a looser top like a hoodie for guys or a flowy blouse for girls.
  • Flared or bootcut jeans look good on people with pear or hourglass-shaped bodies. They also work well for anyone who wants to wear boots! Wear a fitted top to show off your waist or a nice flannel for that retro Western style.
  • Boyfriend or relaxed-fit jeans look good on people with athletic or apple body shapes. These baggy jeans give you a super casual appearance and often pair well with a more fitted top.


Men’s jeans use two numbers as the size, listing the waist measurement followed by the length measurement. Women’s jeans use an even-numbered sizing system based on the waist, hip, and length measurements. The key measurements you should take for jeans include waist, hip, thigh, inseam, outseam, leg opening, and rise.

The best way to find the perfect jeans size for you is to take your own measurements and then compare them to a sizing chart provided by the clothing manufacturer. You can also use quick tricks to help you find your jeans size in a pinch, such as checking out an online size calculator or using hacks like wrapping the waist of the jeans around your neck to see if they will fit.